(Unfortunately time constraints, ie football, have limited the scope of this articles early edition.)
After a week had a chance to hear Dennis Daugaards remarks on juvenile justice reform. I'm favorably impressed. Daugaard continues to strike me as a good sense prosperity Republican not drawn to the emotionally fueled lower minded ideas of a large segment of the rank and file of the local party. That's leadership and it's also an effort to maintain and create a state party and national party that leads by right principle against the opinions of its own members when necessary to provide better outcomes. There's a good deal of room for doing that in South Dakota, make no mistake. There's no danger to the punitive approach to petty crimes in SD going by the wayside. There are a number of good reasons to reduce juvenile detention, fiscal, social, moral. Although I didn't hear Daugaard say it, in his remarks, a step back from the pursuit of punishment is a path to justice.
Do you understand that? Let me explain. Justice depends on knowing the truth, truth allows us to deal with a situation, knowing the truth is made more difficult when a punitive mindset is taken. The more we want to punish, the less likely we arrive at a place where people fess up and correct their errors. and remember, most especially with juveniles that is the effort we are making: re form ation. When we can get them to talk about the truth of what's gone on we gain an opportunity to teach integrity rather than encouraging pride, denial, self protection and continued ignorance. And make no mistake, just as the Buddha said, there is no evil, only ignorance.
If you punish kids with six months being locked in detention for smoking pot while on probation, which I'm not saying I know is happening, what you end up doing is eroding respect for the law and the consequences of breaking it.
When the law punishes harshly compared to the impact of the crime, what is often being said is, "well we only caught you this once and we know you were guilty of a hundred other crimes." Yea. Well it doesn't work that way. And we need to get rid of anyone who plays that game.
I have some ideas for improving juvenile justice as well as justice for everyone.
How about this? How about we stop pretending the traffic stop is doing police work? How about we put some of that effort towards investigating those serious crimes that stand behind the perception of appropriate punishments in petty crime sentencing?
At some point in the future I will put together a lot more of my writings on the victim/perpetrator paradigm. Law enforcement and the criminal justice system functions based on the roles of victim and perpetrator. These flat characterization a, like bad actors in a play, are just that, acted out roles.
Yet the system is obsessed with the roles. And so is society where there is a loud rumbling gallop to be viewed sympathetically. It is a great pathos of our time. The only person who can reasonably be expected to enjoy the role of victim is one hiding out from being found out. Indeed the perpetrator hiding as victim is the great weakness of the system, but also its conceit of higher truth well beyond the function of the common mans ego limited consciousness.
That conceit is that the true victim of a crime is the perpetrators. There is nothing but disadvantage and self destruction in harming another. And to do harmful things, dishonest things is to lock oneself off from the experience of joy. Overvaluing this physical life is the necessary weakness of criminal justice systems designed to protect it. Like all bureaucracies they tend to overvalue their product at the same time that that philosophy of self importance also serves to keep them from doing their work well enough to end our need for them. Perpetuating their own existence by being incentivized to approach the issue wrongly.
If you're wondering the sources of my notions, these notions, one might resource their origin in such places as the New Testament, the teachings of Buddha and Krishna, for starters.
I wonder if these hard ass law and order republican hicks realize that the paradigm of thought that shapes their careers is drawn from the weak kneed fooey of relativist liberal sociology? Something tells me they dont. Criminal records, histories, profiles of subjects involved in crime will all play a role going into our future, of course. Moving away from the system we have in juvenile justice in SD which has the quality of a life role assignment system from my brief look, prescribing criminal identity, punitively institutionalizing juveniles, and adding that heavy feeling to their formative years is a prudent idea. Where would i be today if I hadn't been given the breaks I was? What would my path have looked like had someone been waiting down the block in a squad car to make a meal out of me?
Let's keep our eyes on the ball: crimes against persons and property of a serious nature. And move away from hanging kids by a hook for smoking pot or skipping school.